Thursday, March 12, 2015

Working Versus Innate Talent

Sometimes we see a blog post so compelling, so relevant to our tribe that we immediately pop that link on TwitterFaceTumblBook with hyperbolic punctuation and MANY CAPITALIZED WORDS. 

More rarely, we find a treasure that necessitates an entire blog post of our own because it speaks to us such that we gotta speak back.

Oh my Gorgeous Metaphorical Gods, this post! This wonderful, insightful, brilliant goddamn post! This is an article I wish I could have read in grade school. This is an article I'm going to paraphrase and pass the age-edited wisdom to my child. (She doesn't mind the cussin'. She is my baby after all.)

If you're a writer of any kind, you should be reading Chuck Wendig. He drops the mic like a boss on the regular and is a font of writerly advice in the most practical and usable ways. (The fact that his language is all snappy snark and peppered with yummy curses further endears him to my own filthy fucking heart.)

His recent post speaks to the billshit idea of talent. He relates having been labeled not only talented but gifted at a young age and the burden of that word. To this day, this day on which I'm a year and a month-ish away from being forty goddamn adult years old, that word gifted puts a stone of dread in my belly.

He says we can't—no one can—live up to the ideal of talent or gifted. He is so right it slapped me in my smartass face.

He talks about work. A revelation, I know. I won't regurgitate his every point but it's a bitingly insightful piece about the utter bullshit that the idea of talent/giftedness is. 

He explains, and I feel I maybe ought to here as well, that it's not about "Oh, I am so Burdened With Glorious Purpose!* Woe to me, the Gifted One looking down on you masses of normals." It's not that. It's a bar set in a spaceless height and no matter what you achieve, it magically raises so that you're never, ever worthy.**

So fuck it, right? In my head I started failing to reach my potential (because I wasn't perfect) as a kid, so by the time I finished junior high school, I'd settled firmly into the lazy-hazy idea that I'd skate by until someday my genius would magically manifest and I'd wake up with art in the Guggenheim or the NY Times Bestsellers List. Because: talented.

And so I very giftedly took eleven years to earn a four year art degree and worked retail and secretarial jobs for all the years that my body functioned. Hmm.

My fear now, the coldest and sweating one, is that Bird will react to her intelligence the way I did. It's been a long road through my thirties to reprogram my brain not to see my life as wasted potential.

I try hard to praise the work she puts in—I'd heard a while back that it'll instill some semblance of a work ethic in a kid if you don't say "Hey, there!, genius offspring! Aced math, because you're brilliant!" It's better to tell her you're so very proud of the work she did to earn that A+.

It's pretty mind-blowing what I learn from guiding my Birdy.

For consistent brain expansion and creative mental treats, do check out Wendig's blog. It's a jewel in the oft-beautiful setting of our interweb. 

Go now darlings and unleash that rapier wit and vorpal sword of creativity. Go practice and practice and work and work! And don't forget to take breaks for tea of coffee or wine or beer. Then work more!

*See, Mama Bones can get a Loki quote into ANY post.

**Bonus (if vague and highly nerdy) Thor reference! w00t! 

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